Gloria Brame, Ph.D.

Lounge Ladies of the Jewel Box: Vintage drag photo

Filed By Gloria Brame, Ph.D. | June 30, 2010 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Gay Icons and History, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gay history, gay performers, Jewel Box, Kansas City, trans history, trans performers, vintage drag

A Bilerico reader recently asked if I knew of any images of Butch Ellis, one of the fine 1950s-era ladies featured at the Jewel Box Lounge in Kansas City. I did not but throw me a name and I must google. I found a treasure trove of excellent Jewel Box photos and other memorabilia - not surprisingly - at Queer Music Heritage.


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The most famous of those in that photo is G. G. Allen, who frequently performed at the Jewel Box Revue in New York.

I actually have a hard time calling these performers "drag"... they were female impersonators which I think of as quite different than drag. It's a very different expression and mindset even though it's been sadly blurred in the past 20 years.

Here's an interesting link to a discussion of how Truman Capote hung out at the Jewel Box Lounge during the period he was in Kansas researching "In Cold Blood."

Jim Murrain | June 30, 2010 5:51 PM

I never even knew The Jewel Box Lounge was on Troost Ave. I remember a later one at 31st and Main St. I moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1977 and was still closeted enough to be afraid to go to the shows there. How I wish I had. One of the showmen worked as a checker at Linwood Super and I remember he could just smile at you and instantly be transformed into Carol Channing.

...and that's Exactly why I type in the names of the folks in the photos on my you can use google to find Butch Ellis, or whoever...:)

I've been much expanding my Female Impersonation pages, always growing...:)

JD Doyle